Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 95–112

Who Plays Bingo in Later Life? The Sedentary Lifestyles of ‘Little Old Ladies’



Bingo is a popular past time with less than 20% of seniors, but the prevailing stereotype of bingo players describes elderly women with nothing better to do, smoking heavily while gambling away their limited income day after day. Little research has actually explored the lifestyles of seniors who frequent the bingo halls or identified social factors explaining who plays and why.


The purpose of this study was to clarify the social context and lifestyle characteristics of seniors who regularly invest money on bingo.

Design and Methods

A 30-min telephone survey was conducted randomly with quotas for gender and urban/rural location with 400 Albertans aged 65+. Next, a strategic sample of 44 bingo players was added to the population sample to strengthen the dependent variable for regression analyses. Multiple regression analyses were used to define key characteristics of bingo players among 10 social or contextual factors and 5 lifestyle variables.


Being female, more elderly, living in rental accommodation, receiving federal income supplements and reporting more health problems were significant predictors of more money typically spent on bingo (18% variance explained), and these findings lend support to the “little old lady” stereotype. However, sedentary living, rather than smoking, was the only significant and predictive lifestyle pattern, suggesting that the lifestyle vices projected about bingo players are not entirely accurate.


Elderly women of marginal means do dominate the game of bingo in terms of money spent, but their gaming lifestyle apparently has less to do with habits of smoking, eating poorly, drinking alcohol, or having excessive leisure time, and more to do with sedentary recreation that is socially delimited by their gender, age, income and health.


Gambling Seniors Lifestyle Health Social context 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra O’Brien Cousins
    • 1
  • Chad S. G. Witcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Physical Education & RecreationUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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